Graham Murtough

301 N. Blakeley St   

Montesano, WA  98563  USA  

Sara Lane Studio

Unit 33 98563 

60 Stanway Street

London, N16RE





Graham Murtough (b. 1975) recently graduated from the MA program at City and Guilds of London Art School where he won the Outstanding Exhibition award for The Relative Value of Convention II.  He earned his BA in Fine Art from the College of Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  In 2017 he was featured in the group exhibition Exceptional at Collyer Bristow Gallery in London and was awarded High Commendation by Whitechapel Gallery Director, Iwona Blazwick.   


After residencies in Iceland and Norway, he spent the rest of the year exploring the Pacific Northwest of the United States and revisiting his early ties to the Santa Fe Art community.  His practice is inherently transient and benefits from having multiple locales of origin.   He plans to divide his time between Washington State, New Mexico, and London.   




2014 – 2016   MA in Fine Art awarded Distinction  

                         City and Guilds of London Art School, London, England


1993-1997     BA in Fine Art awarded Magna Cum Laude  

                        The College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA


1996                Studio Art Centers International Florence, Italy


Solo Exhibitions:

2019  "Erasure Collapse" METHOD Gallery, Seattle, USA

2018   "Remembering Ruin" Galleri Kronborg, Bergen, Norway

2011  "In Land" Doors Showcase, London 

2009  "Cascade / Collision" Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, London 

2009  "In Cascade: Interludes" Fanny and The Cave, London 

2008  "In Cascade" The Tab Center, London



Group Exhibitions:


2018    Borealis Festival, Seattle, USA

2018     Shunpike Storefronts, Seattle, USA

2018    Open Studio Presentation  Kunstnarhuset Messen, Ålvik, Norway

2018     List í Ljósi – Art and Light Festival, Seyðisfjörður, Iceland

2017    Salon Presentation at Heima Artist Residency, Seyðisfjörður, Iceland 

2017     "Exceptional" Collyer Bristow Gallery, London, UK

2016    City And Guilds of London Art School MA Degree show 

2015    City And Guilds of London Art School MA show: Interim Show


Awards and Scholarships:

2019    Remote Fellowship and Scholar with The Guest House Cultural Capitol Residency program 

            with funding from Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA).

2017    High Commendation Awarded by Iwona Blazwick, Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery and 

           Guest judge for "Exceptional"  Gradute Award at Collyer Bristow Gallery, London.

2016    Outstanding MA Exhibition Awarded by City And Guilds of London Art School

2015    The Skinner’s Company – Art Memorial Trust Annual Bursary (renewed)

2014    The Skinner’s Company – Art Memorial Trust Annual Bursary


Public Outreach Participation:

2019    Resisting Development, Research presentation to Aberdeen High School Art Students, 

            in Aberdeen, WA as a part of Guest House Cultural Capitol Residency.

2016    Open House London Organized and lead tours of the MA Exhibition 

            with highlights of the building history of City and Guilds of London Art School.

2015    Welcome Collection Master of Ceremonies for Pendulum, Pop up event held at the Welcome Collection,                                                                            Reading Room.  Educational event created in collaboration with Birmingham University 

            students and City and Guilds MA students. 



2018    Artist in Residence at Kunstnarhuset Messen, Ålvik, Norway.

2017    Artist in Residence at Heima, Seyðisfjörður, Iceland.


Exhibition Statements


Erasure Collapse 

Site specfic installation for Solo show at Method Gallery in Seattle ,Wa

What physical and architectural objects represent acts of erasure? How can we reclaim this loss?  A story about the gallery’s history and the building sparked this enquiry.  In the corner of the gallery is a bench, which hides one end of a concrete block that filled in the original entrance.  On the outside of the building, the other end of this block is a railing and platform with no discernable purpose.  This structural intervention into the space is essentially an act of erasure. By obscuring the entrance to the gallery some aspects of the building and the community’s history is erased.  I set out to recreate this intervention physically in the gallery and orchestrate a material event that brings about its destruction.


As I continued my research I began to connect this idea of erasure to other objects and architecture in our society.  Building sites that overwhelm the urban environmental, a sea of cranes and cavities throughout the street several stories deep.  I also began to see barriers and borders as acts of erasure.  By keeping us separate and “safe” potential connections and lives are erased.  Opportunities to connect and grow are snuffed out before they have a chance to happen.  As I gathered my materials and responded to their qualities, the work evolved into a make shift barrier.  A set of three structures, with their teetering spires, fill the gallery with a sense of elegant unease.   Some areas of the black railings have been carved out and overtaken by fugitive plants, securing themselves as new residents in a faltering display of power.   A new set of circumstance emerges, one that plays with the arbitrary nature of a boundary, and expresses a desire to see this act of Erasure Collapse.

This body of work continues an on-going preoccupation I have with themes of hyper development and regeneration.  I frequently use DIY materials, found objects and plants to explore the often contrary aspects of our shared experience as we adapt to our ever changing environment. In addition to the main installation, I have included four preparatory drawings and collages, to offer some insight into my research process. 




Resisting Development / Resisting Ruin 


Site Specific Installation for Shunpike Storefront in Seattle, WA, USA.


The sculptures in this installation have been made over the past six months while living in Grays Harbor.  My research focused on the early industrial development of the Ballard Locks, disused timber mills, construction sites, and the rural landscape.  Despite the Northwest’s immense economic growth in the past ten years, the need for vital regeneration in some rural communities is apparent.  The once thriving timber industry has left behind a legacy of infrastructure, ghost buildings and transit hubs.  While I do not pretend to offer any conclusions in this small body of work, I do intend to explore some of the conflicting impressions of past and present life in the Northwest.  Fractures in the landscape like fractures in the structural ruins of an industry, refer to a dislocated sense of community as experienced within a global society.  At times belonging, connecting and exchanging on dynamic level.  Other times feeling out of place, as if nowhere is quite familiar enough to call home.   The use of reflective materials in my work has come to symbolize resistance and visibility.  In this context, it refers to a sense of resisting obscurity while shining through the adversity of endless new developments. 




In February 2017, 'The Relative Value of Convention II'  was selected for "Exceptional" The Collyer Bristow Graduate Award Exhibition.  Recreating this site specific installation for a new location was an exciting challange.  It allowed new aspects of the work to emerge, accentuating the sweeping motion that defines it while propelling the viewer closer to it; due to the restrictions and function of the corridor. The environment itself, a law office where many clients who enter are already facing challenges and new circumstance, are confronted with a physical gesture of upheaval.  This is overriden by a fresh and thriving living plant that lends a sense of hope and lightness to the recent collapse of circumstance.


In April and May of 2017, I was an artist in residence at Heima, a residency program in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland.  As part of the residency we were given the use of an old fish factory.  The building and its relationship to the fjord, the elements, and the local community; served as an inspiration for a body of work that included 33 works on paper, 5 found object assemblages, and 1 site specific installation.  I observed a sense of resistance to the forces of nature and visibility played a key role in this.  This idea was the focus of my expoloration.




'The Relative Value of Convention' is the name that I have given the work in my recent MA degree show and it refers to the implicit violence of our accepted cultural values and unquestioned social norms.


The ever-obsessive drive towards new urban development and expansion is an example of this violence, and has become a particular preoccupation of mine. As we face environmental catastrophe, I find the two are completely at odds, and the dissonance is observably remarkable.  I use some of the visual language of the construction site to refer to this stark absurdity.


In many of the works I create there is a sense that an event has already taken place, and I am interested in creating a kind of material and affective aftermath.  A protrusion or upright beam for example, resembling the gesture of a fist pump, a blocking arm or an erection creates an upward motion and is used to conjure associations with a certain kind of resistance, power or even pleasure. I also use architectural references like the lower concrete blocks that serve as the foundation of the piece.  These resemble defunct and abandoned bunkers with slanted impressions that may have once served as entrances.  For me, the blocks are faltering defences cracking and corroding under the weight of their ambition.  The concrete shards refer to the structure in the ceiling of the gallery where the work was on show.  I wanted the installation to have a relationship to the space it was presented in and focused on the triangular supports in the ceiling.  I imagined them filled with concrete, forming a slab that would then suddenly fall to the ground.  This would represent a fallen ideal, collapsing and interrupting our daily life. The vibrant plants serve as a living return to civility, carrying with them a sense of optimism after the destruction.


This assemblage of works aims to create an environment where the viewer can experience conflicting sensations, where there is protection, interruption and exclusion all at once.  I mean to challenge the possibility of resolution.  Instead, I aim to create a kind of material tension, a physical dissonance and unease, one that stems from the knowledge of impending catastrophe while we just ‘carry on’.